It's almost over - the hot days of summer that is. With the arrival of Septem-ber it's only a few weeks before we break out of the hot days and transition to the cooler days of autumn. This is great news for fishing around Southwest Florida for several reasons.
At the top of the list you would have to place relief from the summer heat. Days will become less humid with a slight drop in temperature, after the hot days of August, this will be welcome. Don't get me wrong, it will still be hot on many days but it will become much more tolerable as the month progresses.
The summer thunderstorm pattern will begin to fade away, opening up the door to spend longer periods of the day on the water. It's been hard to get in a full day fishing with the heat and storms but that will slowly change.
Look for schools of big redfish this month. Pictured is Bob Newcom of Atlanta Ga with a 31-inch fish that was caught from a school of several hundred. The fish was caught last September in Charlotte Harbor while fishing with captain Bill Russell.
Just as anglers enjoy the change of seasons look for fish to also respond as they become more active resulting in improved fishing. With a drop in water temperature you can expect fish to exert more energy and feed more consistently throughout the day. Of course, it's fishing -there are days when you can't buy a bite no matter what, but your chances for success are tipped in your favor.
Offshore as the water temperatures drop look for fish to move closer to shore in shallower depths. There are reports recently of good grouper and snapper catches in less than 70 feet of water and divers have noted cooler than normal thermoclines near the bottom at these depths. It might be a great year for near-shore bottom fishing. Many of the artificial reefs that dot our coast are also yielding good action with everything from snapper to snook. These areas should only get better
For the inshore angler it's a month with almost endless opportunities. The beginning of autumn is always a great time to fish for the big four (snook, tarpon, redfish and sea trout) inshore species. As the shallower inshore water cools these gamefish will get much more active, look for explosive strikes on top-waters lures with all four feeding much more aggressively.
Tarpon will not be in the huge pre-spawn schools of spring, but there will be plenty around. However, redfish will be in large schools prowling the inshore waters. Now until the first real cold front (most likely in October) presents us with our best red fishing of the year. Large fish will gather in schools of up to several hundred and on the right day can give you a fishing experience you will never forget.
Look for them moving along the shallow edges of bars as they push a wall of water and crashing any bait fish in their path. Try to get well ahead of the moving fish to intercept their path. If you don't spook them make a long cast ahead of the lead fish and hang on. Most are way oversized but they sure are a blast to catch.
Larger sea trout will begin moving back into shallower water to feed; this is a great time to work a top-water plug across your favorite trout flats. Plenty of keeper size trout will also be caught under the endless schools of baitfish, look for birds and surface activity.
Snook remains closed on our coast for at least another year. Earlier in the summer there were rumors that season might reopen, but after evaluating the status of our snook population the state determined to keep them off limits for at least another year. With that said, snook will begin to leave the beach and passes and move back inshore on the flats around oyster bars, shorelines and other structures. This can be one of the best months for snook fishing, just make sure you handle them with care and release them back in the water quickly for a healthy release.
Plenty of other fish including Spanish mackerel, sharks, jack crevalle, bluefish, pompano and cobia, just to name a few, plus the best inshore mangrove snapper fishing of the year are all on the list of what we should expect to catch in the upcoming month. With so many fishing opportunities and weather that's more enjoyable for fishing, let's get out there and see what we can catch!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.